46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The Blessed One
In view of Advent, we will examine Mary’s song as a genuine response to the transforming power of the Coming King. In the first portion of the song, Mary focuses on her present condition, recognizing that she has been “blessed,” while the rest of the song focuses entirely on God. One is the effect, the other is the cause, and the result is deep gratitude and great joy.
Upon being visited by Mary, her cousin Elizabeth calls her “blessed” (three times!), provoking Mary to burst into song. Mary—this poor, disenfranchised, and illiterate social outcast—knows that she is holding the greatest Gift of all and that her story will be told throughout all generations. She realizes that, not only is this little baby the Son of God, but He has come to save her. She calls Jesus “my Savior,” owning up to her humble state as a helpless sinner without any security or identity of her own. She stands in awe of His mighty deeds, knowing that she deserves to be forsaken but has instead been “lifted up” and “filled…with good things.” Why would the God of the universe be mindful of her? How could He ever love a sinner like her? She is a nobody, and yet she is fully known and fully loved. How great is His faithfulness!
Many people will admit that Jesus was a great healer, teacher, and role model but refuse to acknowledge Him as Savior, Lord, and King. As Mary demonstrates, it takes a certain type of humility to confess your deep-rooted shame and brokenness, own up to your sin, and turn back to the Lord in repentance. In fact, it is impossible to repent without the Spirit working in your heart, but “nothing is impossible with God” (1:37). Do you ever feel weak, shameful, or burdened? The worst thing you can do is to hide or suppress these things—it is through that brokenness that God has chosen to heal and bless you! Mary has a newfound assurance of access to her Lord, and no person or circumstance can ever take that away from her—this is what it means to be truly blessed.
The Cursed One
Mary sings over a God who extends “mercy…to those who fear Him” but also “[brings] down rulers from their thrones” and “[sends] the rich away empty.” Mary recognizes that, while she is blessed, others are cursed. Throughout the rest of her prayerful song, she sings about all of the things that God has done. She gets it—her blessing has nothing to do with her own actions but everything to do with what God has done through Christ.
In the book of Mark, God also sings over His Son. The Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove, the heavens open up, and God dotes on His Son, saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one, each glorifying and serving one another in perfect harmony. On the cross, the scene has completely changed—Jesus is overcome with grief and sorrow. He cries out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” The King of kings has lost His throne in heaven. The Rich One has been made destitute. The Blessed One has become a curse. Why? So that we who deserve to be cursed would be lifted up out of the punishment for our sin and instead filled with good things. God shows us unending mercy, because on the cross, His mercy for His own Son ran dry. You are so sinful that only God Himself was capable of intervening on your behalf, and yet you are so loved that He was glad to do it and throw all else away. As the beauty of Jesus’ life and death takes root in your heart, it will lead to a growth of genuinely good character—true humility and courage. No longer will Mary need to find her worth and validation through others! No longer will she need to work and labor for a love that will not last!
In this season of Advent, may our hearts be led to pray as Mary did, with our souls rejoicing over our Savior who gave up His life so that we could have it and was ultimately cursed so that we could be ultimately blessed in Him.